Cuban’s Courageous Crack at Queensland Cup

Garry Schwenke is daring to dream of Queensland Cup glory, the part-time Warwick horseman hoping his smart mare Cuban can take the cigar in Eagle Farm’s tough two-mile turf feature on Saturday.

Iglesia four-year-old Cuban was one of the final 17 acceptors for this year’s $150,000 Listed Queensland Cup (3200m), the able but to date unremarkable galloper seeking one of the biggest upsets in the race’s 133-year history.

With the likes of Michael Moroney’s Group placegetter Tinseltown, the Robert Smerdon-trained six-year-old Persian Star and Brian Smith’s Danehill Dancer gelding Raeburn among the Queensland Cup top elects, Cuban certainly has her work cut out for her on Saturday.

Purchased by Schwenke, his wife Joann and a couple of buddies at a mixed horse sale at the Gold Coast in 2008 for just $3,000, a black-type win would be the culmination of a long-harboured pipe dream.

“We went down with some mates to look at a couple of tried horses,” Schwenke said.

“Joann just started walking and finished up outside the stall of this nice-looking black filly.

“She just kept looking at her.

“The tried horses we were keen on either were too dear or had an old injury.

“Joann kept talking about the black filly, so I decided to have a bid.

“Eventually we got her for $3,000.

“My mates from Brisbane, Dave Amedee and Jason Barr, wanted a share.

“They are in on the cup dream.”

The mare remains a maiden after 19 career starts to date and the Queensland Cup will be Cuban’s metro debut, but Schwenke has timed Cuban’s preparation down to the wire to have her ready to peak on Saturday.

“She’s a good type of black mare,” Schwenke said.

“She looks like Cathy Freeman but runs like Oprah.”

While other Queensland Cup hopefuls come into the race on the back of black-type runs and placings, Cuban ran fifth in a Maiden 2150m race at Ipswich on June 24.

But with Schwenke taking a page right out of the legendary Bart Cummings’ book, the Cups King always running his Melbourne Cup starters on Derby Day three days before the world’s richest handicap, Cuban had a final preparatory run at Doomben today.

Lining up in the $13,000 Www.BRC.Com.Au Maiden Handicap (2240m), Cuban ran a respectable fourth behind winner Clear Passage.

So, she still has no wins to her name and has never seen the bright lights of the Brisbane city track at Eagle Farm; for Schwenke to believe Cuban can become the Queensland Cup winner is more than just an audacious aim.

“I know it’s a ridiculous dream,” Schwenke said, the Warwick RSL general manager standing to gain $96,000 with the first prize Queensland Cup money, millions compared to the $3,600 Cuban has earned to date.

Due to be ridden by apprentice hoop Timothy Bell for the first time, Cuban has drawn well in the Queensland Cup field and is set to start from barrier six as one of the 53kg lightweights in the race.

As a low-key maiden, the handicap conditions of the Queensland Cup work in Cuban’s favour.

She had never carried such a lightweight in a race before her run at Doomben today, which was also her first time racing at 2240 metres.

It’s a different story in her trackwork.

With Schwenke aboard each morning, the hands-on hobby trainer gives her 100 kilos to carry making her Queensland Cup weight a dream.

It is a massive ask of Cuban to now step up to the traditional Cup distance of 3200 metres on Saturday, but Schwenke has a hunch she is a stayer, with nothing but instinct to back the claims.

“In the sprint race, she can’t keep up,” he explained.

“Her strength is just to keep running.

“I think she will run the 3200m and some of the others won’t.”

2011 Queensland Cup Final Field & Barriers

# Form (Last 10) Horse Trainer Jockey Barrier Weight Hcp. Rating
1 138807F263 TINSELTOWN (NZ) Michael Moroney Chad Ormsby 7 58kg 100
2 3X90926587 PERSIAN STAR Robert Smerdon Chris Munce 1 54kg 95
3 11X7706754 RAEBURN Brian Smith Scott Galloway 10 53kg 88
4 733X042108 SMOKING CHIMNEYS (NZ) David Haworth Jason Taylor 4 53kg 86
5 26X3532204 BEARTRACKER (NZ) Bradley Herne Kanichiro Fujii 2 53kg 79.5
6 2711564689 MISS MARTIKA (NZ) Wayne Walters Ms Melissa Walters (a) 5 53kg 72
7 1790X89200 JEDI STARFIGHTER Trevor Thomas Nathan Thomas 12 53kg 71
8 5502421280 MALING David Lawlor Anthony Erhart 13 53kg 70
9 X721410565 BUNDEEBEAR Aiden & Kane St Vincent Anthony Pattillo 3 53kg 68
10 0048097000 MAJESTIC SIGHT David Scanes Ashley Butler (a) 8 53kg 68
11 229X254231 PREACHER BOY Roger Milne Jason Holder 16 53kg 68
12 747X054281 SANCY DIAMOND Peter Hulbert Andrew Spinks 15 53kg 62
13 X500X00645 ZAMAN (NZ) Robert Heathcote Kelvin Wharton 14 53kg 62
14 2461328526 FAMOUS FORTUNE Lyn Paton Cyril Small 9 53kg 61
15 X085561865 ZADANE Bruce W Hill Paul Hammersley 17 53kg 56
16 60X7082543 BAGGS IT David Scanes Joe Bowditch 11 53kg
17 959X079435 CUBAN Garry Schwenke Timothy Bell (a) 6 53kg